(Guest Speaker Anthony Fuina - Photograph by Loci B. Lenar)
Commentary By Loci B. Lenar
Visitors at the National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima were amazed and touched by hearing Anthony Fuina's heartfelt testimony about being miraculously healed through the intercession of Saint Padre Pio.
On July 13, 2009, over a thousand faithful came to the shrine, located on the grounds of the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA, to celebrate the 92nd anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. The Catholic shrine is located in beautiful Warren County on Mountain View Road, Washington, NJ
Mr. Fuina's story is a testament to God's healing grace working through the power of prayer and the saints. With intercessory prayer, Mr. Fuina experienced the Lord's miraculous blessing and healing though Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.
With respect to Padre Pio and the saints, Wisdom 3:7-9 conveys, "In time of their visitation, they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble. Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love; Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with the elect."
Jesus said, " Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8
I believe the following inspirational story by Mr. Fuina will open your heart to God's love and to the intercessory help available through His Holy Saints.
St. Padre Pio - Photo by Loci B. Lenar
My Greatest Miracle
By Anthony Fuina
It all began on February 18, 1997, when I was diagnosed as having a large tumor that had to be removed from my colon in stages because of its size. On March 5, 1997, Doctor Ferrara surgically removed one half of the tumor, and a biopsy was taken. I was told that the results of such biopsy would be available on Friday, March 7, 1997 and they would call me. I impatiently waited and waited for the results on that day. The waiting felt like an eternity. I began to worry and became very concerned. Suddenly, I heard a noise at the front door. I went downstairs and found a package on the stoop. I opened this package and found a note and a beautiful statue of an angel with patches on her wings and dress. The note was addressed to my wife for her birthday from our niece, Jo Ann. When I picked up this figure, I felt immediate warmth and a closeness that I cannot describe and I took possession of it. This angel could not have come at a more opportune time. I will call this angel Victoria, since I was told from a woman who prayed to find out for me that Victoria is the name of my guardian angel and also the name of my deceased sister-in-law, who was always like an angel to me. She is deceased but lives on as my guardian angel. I knew that good things were to come. I prayed to this guardian angel to see me through these trying times, and prayed that I would have positive news with my biopsy report.
Suddenly, the telephone phone rang, my heart started to beat faster and faster. I anxiously picked up the phone, but the voice on the other line was not the doctor. It was my real estate agent asking for me to bring the keys to the house, so that she may show the house in ten or fifteen minutes. I said that I would and hoped that I did not miss the call from the doctor while I was out on this errand. I picked up the most beautiful angel and put her in my pocket. This was the beginning of a beautiful day ahead.
I continued on my journey and drove off down the road. It was rainy that day. The sky was filled with clouds and the ground was wet. As I approached the traffic light on Merrick Rd and Hicksville Rd., I saw a figure waiving to me from the distance. As I waited for the light to change this man approached my car and begged me, " Please! Give me a lift to Jerusalem Ave. and Hicksville Rd., by the Tabernacle Church and Maria Regina Church." He said that he had been waiting all morning for a lift. It was now early afternoon! I never pick up strange hitchhikers, but some miraculous, overpowering feeling came over me, and I told this bearded man, dressed in a white bakers uniform, to get in and that I would take him. Unfortunately, it was going to make me really late for my appointment, but that did not seem to matter to me anymore. I felt an immediate tie to this man for whom I did not know. As he sat in my car, he told me that I was a good man for putting aside my appointment to take him to his destination. He blessed me and thanked me. He then told me that he sensed I was troubled and worried over a sickness that I had. I was amazed at his assessment of me. Again, I did not know this man. He had asked me what was bothering me, as if he already knew. I told him that I just had a surgical procedure done to remove a portion of a tumor, and that I have been anxiously waiting all morning for the results of the biopsy report. I felt an overwhelming feeling of peace and calmness with this man sitting next to me that was unbelievably beautiful. He asked me if he could place his hand on the area where I had my surgery and pray for me. Of course I did not mind, although, I was a little taken back by this most beautiful encounter. I guided the man's hands to the area in question, as he placed his hand upon my side and he began praying in another language. The sensation that took over my body was so incredibly intense and miraculous, that I felt the hairs stand from my flesh, as the chills ran down my spine. I called out, " O My God, O My God" I can not believe this, I can't wait until I tell my wife. I cannot believe this. He continued to pray until he was finished, and asked me, " What can't you believe?? I told him every hair on my body, including the hair on my head was standing; the electricity that was piercing my body through his hand was unbelievable. He told me, " You are healed! You are healed the Holy Spirit has entered upon you!" Once again I was getting jolted with this wonderful feeling that came upon me. I anxiously asked, " Who are you? Who are you?" He told me that he was a Servant of God. I became speechless and amazed. When we reached our destination, he told me once again that I was healed, and that I should go to various healing masses whenever I could to pray for the sick and those who are in need. As he got out of my car, he told me, " I know now, why I waited all morning! I was waiting for you!" I could not help but to think, who was this man? I thanked him for his prayers and told him to be careful as he crossed to the other side of the street. He got to the other side and waived to me good-bye. The traffic light changed for me to proceed. I tried to take one more glance of this wonderful man that I had picked up, but as I looked he was gone. I made a right hand turn and continued to look for him through my mirrors, hoping to catch another glance of this blessing, but he was gone. Where could this man that I felt so much apart of gone?
I arrived late at the Real Estate Office, with the key in my hand. I apologized for my lateness and told her a brief story of my amazing, miraculous encounter. At this point, I still felt the goose bumps and electricity piercing my body. She looked at me a little strangely, as I left the office in complete glory. I resumed my journey back home with this continuing euphoria that was to remain with me through out the day and into the night. I could not wait to tell my wife Barbara and my family. When I arrived home, late that afternoon, the call that I was waiting for finally came. The biopsy report was in and Dr. Ferrara was happy to inform me that the tumor was benign (negative), however, he still had to remove the remainder of the tumor on April 10, 1997. I thanked him for this great news. I jumped for joy and excitement with this wonderful news. I reached into my pocket and took out my angel, Victoria. I am so lucky to have such an angel. I thanked and kissed this figure that I held in my hand, and told her thank you for guiding me today to my new found friend. I felt the blessings I received were all ready being answered.
When my wife and family arrived home, I could not wait to tell them all of my day's events. In fact, I wanted to tell the world. My family was quite ecstatic with the happening of the day and could not believe what I was telling them. In fact they where in aura and looked at me strangely, but they were happy at any event. That evening when I went to bed, I awoke from a pulling sensation, which felt like multiple tugs on the area of my surgical procedure. My wife asked me what was the matter. I told her of my discomfort. It was almost like someone was removing the rest of my tumor.
April 10, 1997, had arrived, and it was time to remove the other half of my tumor. I made sure that I had my guardian angel, Victoria, in my pocket and with me at all times. Dr. Ferrara began the procedure. As he was looking in my colon through the use of the television monitor and other surgical instruments, he stated that the tumor was no longer there and that there was nothing to remove. He wore a look of bewilderment on his face. I began to feel good things happening to me. I could not help but to think of my friend, whom I had picked up on that rainy day, saying, " You are healed, you are healed, the Holy Spirit has entered upon you." I thanked God, my Angel Victoria and my new found friend for all of my blessings.
I was checked every three months, for the first year, and then every six months following, and finally once a year the following year. Tragically, on my third year of 2000, I developed a swallowing problem, completely unrelated to my previous problem. I was diagnosed with esophagus cancer from a biopsy report, which confirmed Dr. Ferrara's findings. He had called early morning at approximately 8:00 AM to tell me of the bad news, which confirmed 3rd stage esophagus cancer. The cancer had broken through my esophagus wall and had spread to my lymph node. The news was grim. I was unaware that my daughter, Stacey, was listening in on the other line, as we both picked up the phone together to answer this call. I was unaware that she had heard this tragic news, of which I was not planning to tell her at this time. News had traveled fast and I felt it would be in the best interest to tell the rest of the family the bad news, since I knew that they would sense that something was wrong and find out anyhow, I hated this, but it had to be done, and we had to be strong. I prayed to God for strength, for the sake of my daughter Darlene, who was to be married the following week on May 19, 2000. My daughter Stacey left to go to work on the morning that she overheard my tragic news. Needless to say, she never made it to work, but instead went to church to pray for me. Once again my family was reliving this nightmare all over again. Only this time it was more threatening and risky.
Later in the evening at about 9:45 PM my son, Michael, was praying to God in his words, " Please let my Dad be OK. Make him better. Please give me a sign that you're listening to my prayers." He then felt a positive, spiritual energy throughout his body in which he asked God to pass it through him to his Dad. " Let him know he will be OK." At that precise moment my daughter Stacey, came home at approximately 10 PM. She came downstairs and kissed me on the cheek and handed me a statue of the Blessed Mother and said, " Dad this is for you". As the tears began to well in my eyes, " don't worry", she told me, " You are going to be OK." She handed me a wallet size card with a picture of a man with an inscription of GUIDA I NOSTRI PASSI. I took one look at this picture and the electricity, euphoria and warmth began piercing my body. The tears began to roll down my face, and I cried out, " where did you get this picture? Where did you get this picture? You must tell me! It is him! It's him." With tears rolling down my face and my daughter's, she asked me, "What is wrong? Who is it?? I stated, " This is the man I picked up on Hicksville Rd. This is the man that blessed and prayed over me and told me I was healed, three year's ago." My daughter responded, " Dad this man is deceased." I told her that it was impossible. I insisted, " This is the man that sat with me in my car. Stacey you must tell me, where you got this card?" She told me that she did not go to work because she was quite upset. Instead she went to church to pray for me, and then went to a religious store to purchase the Blessed Mother. She later went to pray for me at the Pallazolo's home, a very religious, warm and loving family that she knows. While she was there, she was given this wallet size picture of a man. She had no idea who this man was, other than the fact that he was a deceased priest by the name of Padre Pio who is a known healer. I was instructed to hold onto this picture at all times. I hugged and kissed my daughter and thanked her for my gifts. We both cried from all the emotions of this overwhelming evening. She told me that she would try to find out more about Padre Pio. I truly believe the sign that my son Michael had asked God for, to assure me that everything was going to be all right, was given. I found my long lost friend, who I had picked up three years ago! YES! It was PADRE PIO! He was there to help me then, and I know he is here to help me now. Padre Pio is all around me.
The prayers from everyone began to pour in from all my family, friends, priests and nuns. I received Mass cards and get-well cards from everyone. Small children from my cousin, Sr. Linda?s first grade class prayed for me every morning and crafted get well and prayer cards with their own little hands. The Knights of Columbus, Cardinal Mercier Assembly, of which I am a member of the 4th degree and a Sir Knight of the Honor Guard, also included me in their prayers. The power of prayer enabled me to become less and less afraid and I was beginning to accept the fact of my illness.
On May 19, 2000, my daughter Darlene was married. We all remained strong for this blessed event. We had a great and wonderful time, despite the illness that lurked inside of me. No one would have ever surmised that anything was wrong with me, although a good portion of the guests were aware of my misfortune. The fear of the unknown inside of me was frightening, but Padre Pio guided my family and I through this wonderful blessed event of my daughter's marriage and helped us all to be strong.
A few days later, I began chemo and radiation treatments. The tears rolled down my family's faces and our hearts pounded with fear everyday. Again, I remained strong for the family but deep down inside I was really terrified. The Prayers were coming from everyone, day in and day out. My daughter, Stacey, had told the Palazzolo's of my jaw dropping reaction when she had handed me the wallet size picture of Padre Pio. They invited the both of us into their home for a blessing from a man, who himself, has experienced a miracle of Padre Pio. He is known to mediate and transform into the healer himself. I sat in a silent room and received his blessing. He placed a crucifix in my hands; next he placed a medal of Padre Pio upon the table. I experienced the empowering feeling all over again, sending the chills running down my spine once again. Padre Pio was everywhere, in our thoughts, in our prayers, and right beside me though the most difficult time in my life. I truly felt his presence. When he was finished with his blessing, he told me I may keep the crucifix and the medal of Padre Pio, and I thanked him for all. He then asked me to please tell him of my encounter with Padre Pio, which had to be translated from English to Italian by the Palazzolo's.
The fear began to lessen in my heart. My attitude towards my sickness began to change. I almost forgot at times that there was some evil illness living inside of me. My courage and strength was amazingly brave, and my sense of humor came alive. My six weeks of chemo and radiation was coming to an end. My radiologist, Dr. Karten, had called me into his office to share his own words of encouragement.
He stated, " I've seen patients come and go but I have never seen someone with your demeanor, your jovial ways, your attitude, and I can't believe how good you look. You did not lose much weight nor did you lose your hair, and there were no burn marks in the designated areas of radiation throughout your treatments. With just two more treatment days left of this very heavy duty radiation we have been giving you, (which will be over 6,100 rads of radiation) in conjunction with your chemo, you look just great for what you received. We are going to beat this one," he remarked.
He told me that he usually has to submit a rating report of his patients and that he had given me a ten (10), ten being the highest on one to ten scale, and on another report with a scale of 1-4 he gave me a 1 with one being the highest on that scale. He gave me a big bear hug as I departed from his office. He and his staff of nurses and technicians made me feel so good. Little did they know that when I was being administered my treatments and they all fled the room to throw the switch, I was praying to Padre Pio, to please destroy and kill whatever evil cancer cells I have in my body. I did this each and every treatment and visualized their slow death and disappearance.
It was now time to go forth with more testing to evaluate how well the treatments worked. Dr Ferrara, made arrangements for me to have another cat scan and abdominal x-rays on Aug 25, 2000. I was to follow up with another endoscopic sonogram, at North Shore University Hospital on August 29, 2000, at 7:30 AM with Dr Bansal, who is a specialist in this field. The doctors wanted to see if the tumor had shrunk enough, so that they may prepare me for surgery with Dr Altorki, who is a specialist in stomach and esophagus cancer. In my case the surgery involved both. I was already informed of the procedure that was more than likely to be performed.
Later on that evening, I was asked to participate as an Honor Guard member of the Cardinal Mercier Assembly Fourth Degree K of C, in the prayers and hopeful glorification, that one day soon Padre Pio would become a saint. This mass was to take place on August 19, 2000. This could not have come at a more appropriate time. It was an honor to share and pray at this very special mass for Padre Pio, at St Thomas the Apostle Church, in Hempstead, NY. I arrived early so that I could participate in the rosary for Padre Pio prior to the mass. I met a friend, Thomas Gallagher, who is also an Honor Guardsman. I told him of my intentions and he joined me. The Church was full of worshipers from all over. I could not help but to feel the warmth, and electricity responding through my entire being. It was time for all of the Honor Guardsman to get ready outside of the church in preparation for the beginning of the mass. We led the congregation of Priests, from all over, to begin the celebration of Mass for Padre Pio. I was so honored. As we made our way in to the front of the altar, I saw a large banner with a portrait of Padre Pio on the left side of the church. The feeling of warmth, and closeness came upon me. We took our assigned post (seats). I sat on the left side near the banner. Padre Pio seemed to be looking right at me and me at him. The electricity was insurmountable piercing through my entire body. I was praying to Padre Pio to please help me in the coming weeks and to see me through my crisis. Tears began to well up in my eyes. I was hoping that none of the parishioners noticed tears rolling down my face. Suddenly, I felt a light tap on my left arm and looked to see if the man seated next to me had wanted me for something, but he remained looking straight ahead. A short while later I felt that same tap, once again. I looked at the man seated next to me but he was in prayer. Somehow, I got the feeling that this was Padre Pio's way of assuring me that everything was going to be all right. The Mass was coming to an end. It was a very beautiful mass and it meant so much to me. We, the Honor Guardsman, escorted everyone out of mass and saluted with our swords everyone that passed between us. I heard a very beautiful cry, " Dad, Dad!" I looked to see where the cries where coming from among the crowd of parishioners. I then saw the beautiful site of my children, or shall I say grownups. They had come to see their Dad and the Spirit of Padre Pio at this very special mass. They knew how much this mass and Padre Pio meant to me. I hugged and kissed each and every one of them. They had made me feel so good. We made our way to the souvenir stand and purchased a small statue of Padre Pio, medals and other souvenirs, which they had given me. What a beautiful day this was turning into. I escorted them to a Shrine of Padre Pio and we all prayed to him. I seemed to sense a smile upon his face and mine.
The day had arrived for my endoscopic sonogram, August 29, 2000, just ten days following the visit with Padre Pio. It was about 7:30 in the morning, at North Shore University Hospital. The nurses were preparing me and told me to take off my shirt, shoes and to keep my pants on, and to put on the gown. Thank God that I was able to keep my pants on, for in my pocket was this small 4 1/2 inch statue of Padre Pio. I laid down upon the table to get prepped with an IV in my arm so that the Doctor could administer sedation through the IV tube. One of the nurse's in the room remarked at the beautiful cross I had around my neck chain, and said, " What a beautiful medal of the Pope." I told her that it was not a picture of the Pope, it was Padre Pio, and I have him in my pocket as well. I reached under the gown and removed Padre Pio to show her. I said, "This is Padre Pio, he is here to help me today," as I held it up for all to see. She remarked oh how beautiful, and she left the room touched by my words. Dr Bansal, entered the room, as I was putting Padre Pio back into my pocket. I held on to him with a tight grasp. I wondered if the doctor knew what I was holding on to, and what he had thought as he administered the anesthesia. When I awoke I saw my wife crying, I thought dear God don't let it be bad news. I looked up at the doctor who had a bewildered happy face as he blurted out the great happy news, " It is gone! Your cancer is not there, it is gone." I could not comprehend for the moment because I was still a little oozy from the sedation. A moment or two later, I asked Dr Bansal, " Is it gone? But what about my lymph nodes"? He responded, " They are gone, they are not there!" I jumped for joy and my wife began kissing me all over. " It's gone!" she responded, still somewhat bewildered although extremely happy. I wondered what he meant that the lymph nodes were gone. I found out later that lymph nodes, when irritated or attacked by cancer are very prominent or swollen, and when at a normal state cannot be seen. Dr. Bansal, had told me that in his observation the cancer was no longer there, but to please get another opinion.
I followed his advice and arranged to go for a second opinion from, Dr. Altorki, at N. Y. University Hospital, Cornell in New York City. He was more than likely to be the doctor to perform my operation. I had made arrangements to pick up copies of all my medical records so that he could review them and come to his own conclusion. Upon reviewing my medical records, he made this statement, " I agree with the other doctor's in their findings that your cancer is gone, apparently they went for the cure and got it?" They had given you maximum radiation and chemo; sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. In your case it did, and you cannot argue with success. He proceeded to call the doctor's that were involved in my treatments, and to congratulate them on a job well done. Upon completion of his phone conversation, he told me that if I had come in from the beginning and saw him, he would have treated me differently. He would have given me less doses of radiation and chemo treatment, and went for the treatment not the cure, so that the tumor shrunk and then he would have operated. He stated, " You are one lucky man." My wife and I began to cry with tears of happiness.
I know who my cure was, and who was responsible for my success! My success never left my side through many ordeals. He was always there for me and with me. My cure is " Padre Pio!" He has affected our lives in such a way that has changed our lives forever. Padre Pio, is a saintly soul who deserves the title of a true Saint. Padre Pio, from my family and me, thank you! Please continue to look over my family and I, as I will always continue to look upon you as my "Padre".
Let us always remember all miracles are gifts from GOD.
Contact Anthony Fuina: firstname.lastname@example.org